Trudeau praises European Commission for leading charge against 'authoritarianism'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says EU president Ursula Von der Leyen understands the threats posed by the Russia-Ukraine war well, including those posed by 'climate change.'

Trudeau praises European Commission for leading charge against 'authoritarianism'
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi
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On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with the judicial equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He provided ample praise for the commission's first female president on the final day of the World Law Congress — a function where jurists gather every two years to praise democracy and the rule of law.

Trudeau said Von der Leyen's leadership could not have been more timely, with growing instability at home and abroad.

"Brexit left many wondering if the union would continue to hold strong. Euroscepticism was on the rise. And protectionism and authoritarianism were becoming more prevalent," he told reporters.

Though Canada's prime minister fell short of mentioning names, he said the U.K. Brexiteers and the nationalist MAGA movement in the U.S. personified this trend.

"As choruses like 'America First' got louder, Canada and Europe held fast to our belief that growth doesn't come from putting up walls and turning inwards," he said.

"I cannot [imagine] a better embodiment of those than Ursula von der Leyen and the European Commission. You show us how respect for the dignity of all leads to the strength to protect the peace, no matter what."

He said Von der Leyen understands the threats posed by the Russia-Ukraine war well, including those posed by 'climate change.' In contrast, authoritarian states show little care in reducing the environmental impact of carbon-heavy industries.

He pressed his democratic allies to end their dependence on "commodities weaponized by authoritarian states" to protect the defenceless and ensure the middle class remained strong.

"This is a consequential moment calling for thoughtful leadership and strong institutions."

In her address to the World Law Congress, Von der Leyen parallels her conflicts today with those her late father faced, which forced him to forge a united, peaceful Europe.

Democratic values and the rule of law are pillars of such peace, she said — pillars she would not let crumble.

"The story of our union is one of democracies, young and old, getting stronger together," continued Von der Leyen.

"This is Europe's promise: a united continent where all are equal before the law, with freedom and democracy for all."

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